The Politics of Irony in Contemporary Latin American Literature on Violence

Investigadora responsable: Brigitte Adriaensen

The politics of irony is funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO).

Vigente: 2011-2016

The impact of violence on Latin-American society in the twentieth century has been enormous. Although Latin-American culture has a long tradition in using irony as a way of approximating violence and its traumatic consequences, the relationship between irony and violence in its literature has never been systematically investigated. This is all the more astonishing since not only their combined presence is undeniable in contemporary Latin-American fiction, but also because the political (Hutcheon 1994) and the therapeutic (Garrick 2006) potentials of irony have been demonstrated.

This project investigates the functions of irony in the representation of violence in three contemporary literary genres: the postdictatorial novel in Argentina and Chile (PhD1), the crime novel in Chile, Mexico and Cuba (PhD 2) and the drug novel in Colombia and Mexico (applicant). These genres became prominent from the late 1970's on and in each of them, violence and irony play a prominent role.

The project departs from a minimal definition of irony as an indirect mode of discourse which plays with the distance between two oppositional senses and which has an evaluative dimension (Hamon 1996). It will not adopt an exclusively literary focus on irony (the ‘poetics' of irony) but it will also study the ‘politics' of irony (Hutcheon 1994), more specifically through discourse analysis: irony will not merely be studied as a rhetorical or a narratological tool, but also as a discursive strategy which takes an ideological stance in relation to historical violence in Latin-America. Although the main aim of this project is to improve our understanding of irony in relation to violence in Latin-American literature, its theoretical scope will enable a further implementation in other cultural fields.

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